Pinky Cole, the CEO and founder of beloved vegan burger chain Slutty Vegan, reveals she raised $25M in Series A funding from investors that included restaurateur Danny Meyer, says Forbes. Reportedly valued at $100M, Slutty Vegan will use the investment to open about 20 new locations over the next two years.
Growing the empire
Cole, who says she aims to “build a billion-dollar brand”, says the funds will also go toward hiring a chief executive officer and chief marketing officer to oversee the company’s growth. The investment is the latest win for Cole’s fast-growing business empire, which includes an upcoming cookbook and Slutty Vegan-themed CBD gummies. In April, the brand introduced “Side Dips”, a line of plant-based dips in Vegan Hot-Lanta Chik’n and Spinach Artichoke flavors, at Target stores in Atlanta.
Transforming the industry
According to Cole, gaining a seasoned investor like Danny Meyer, the creator behind Shake Shack and multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, is invaluable. “I got the Michael Jordan of food on my team,” Cole remarked. Meyer says he first learned of Slutty Vegan when the brand held a popup at a Shake Shack in Harlem last year, and he was immediately enthralled.
“I had never seen vegan food presented in such a fun way,” says Meyer. “Leaders are often defined by the degree to which people want to follow them, and I saw people following the leader.”
Creating health + wealth
The round was also led by Richelieu Dennis of New Voices Fund, which works to invest in and scale black women-owned businesses. Dennis says he became a fan after waiting in line and trying one of the chain’s famed burgers.
“It’s about partnering with these incredible entrepreneurs and their businesses to drive real scale and growth and create wealth for those founders,” comments Dennis. “This new round of investments will rapidly transform not just the vegan restaurant industry but will drive an incredible amount of health initiatives and food options for the Black community that may not have existed yet.”